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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 8:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Actually what I'd REALLY like to see is a "What Don't You Like About The '60s" thread... That could be interesting.

Anyway - if there's one thing I like in the '80s, it's 10/15/83. (That whole summer/fall really, Garcia seemed to have a renewed interest in jamming & the band sounded more excited. Which goes against the traditional "sinking deeper into addiction" storyline.)
And if there's one thing I like in the '90s, it's Days Between.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 2, 2011 10:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"And if there's one thing I like in the '90s, it's Days Between."

Ugh... really? The lyrics are okay, I guess, but the song itself if perfectly dreadful -- plodding and predictable with a half-assed melody that sounds like it was copied from a Neil Diamond B-side.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 3, 2011 12:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Really. You know what's really shocking? I like Corrina too, aside from Weir's singing.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 12:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Count me among the "shocked" although I feel somewhat the same way you do. My big problem with Corrina is that the song part lasts too long and is over-arranged. One of the things I really don't understand about the GD is their failure to grasp how their own best material worked.

Corrina would have been much better if the band had gotten rid of the annoying and repetitive group-singing glissandos and chopped the arrangement in half so the whole song lasted no longer than the singing portion of Playing in the Band.

All of the GD's "best" material is characterized by incredibly brief and simple arrangements of the sung portion. As the band became more skilled at writing full songs, for some reason they stopped creating small songs based on a single strong musical idea, which are what work best for improvisation.

It seems so musically obvious to me, and I just don't grasp why they didn't have the insight to create more tiny songs with a single, interesting riff to use as an improv springboard. I think somehow the concept of a "song" as a larger, finished composition got in the way. Some kind of ego-involvement or something just blinded (deafened?) them to the basic source of what the hell they were doing.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"All of the GD's "best" material is characterized by incredibly brief and simple arrangements of the sung portion."

In a word: no.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Do you disagree that Dark Star, The Other One, and Playing in the Band represents the band's strongest improvisational frameworks?

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Well, I would agree that those three songs are among the band's biggest jam launchers -- that seems obvious enough. Of course even then you'd need to consider the era.

But you said "best material."

"All of the GD's "best" material is characterized by incredibly brief and simple arrangements of the sung portion."

That's quite a different thing from "best songs for launching extended free-form jamming."

And even so, Playin in the Band is hardly a simple arrangement. Simpler than some, but 10/4 time with all those herky-jerky changes is not what I'd call simple. Of course, it led to some great open-ended jamming, but that's another matter.

As for their best "material," Let it Grow and Terrapin would appear on most people's lists (though Terrapin would probably spark some debate) and again, these are not simple arrangements.

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Aug 4, 2011 7:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I'd also throw Bird Song in that group

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Did you read LIA's post and my response? I already explained that I was using the word "best" to refer to the most important jam songs, because that is the most important part of what the Grateful Dead did, the large open-ended jams in 68-74, with those three songs in particular being at the heart of most of the best jams.

I completely agree that the best-composed songs as freestanding songs were different material, like Terrapin Station. I was trying to highlight the contrast in approach between something like Terrapin and a song like The Other One, to point out the tension between what works best for improvisation versus more elaborately composed material.

The fact that Playin is an unusual time signature, and explores different ways of subdividing a ten-beat cycle doesn't mean the arrangement of the song itself is complex - it's just 3 verse+choruses with an instrumental bridge, and it is very short, the singing part is always over in less than 3 minutes. Playin is definitely the most complexly arranged of the big jamming tunes though, especially if you look at the original arrangement with guaranteed reprise.

The fact that the Playin reprise became detached, and eventually often dispensed with entirely, is something that demonstrates the point I'm trying to make - similarly with Truckin, and how it shed its reprise. The more repetitions and elaborations and contrasting sections you have within a song, the harder it is to really open the song up, for time reasons if nothing else.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 3, 2011 3:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"All of the GD's "best" material is characterized by incredibly brief and simple arrangements of the sung portion. As the band became more skilled at writing full songs, for some reason they stopped creating small songs based on a single strong musical idea..."

Really? I thought Dark Star & the Other One were the big exceptions in this regard.
Let's see, as far as early band-composed songs... New Potato has a very long & over-arranged song part for us to suffer through before the jam starts! Truckin' is not exactly a brief little ditty; and in Alligator likewise we have a long wait through a song that's almost unrelated to the subsequent jam. Bird Song is simple, but still goes through a full regular "song" before the solo, as does Scarlet Begonias, or Here Comes Sunshine, or China Cat. China Cat's perhaps the smallest of these, with the song dispatched in quick time - but then, usually so is the jam. He's Gone is the longest example; despite being simplicity itself, we sometimes have to wait up to 10 minutes before the jam!
Playing in the Band is maybe a close approach to what you're thinking of - although the song itself is still cobbled together more from 2 or 3 different riffs, and is not the simplest arrangement in its lurches between riffs (and for that matter was jam-free in its first year). Many of Weir's songs that eventually got jammed-out, like Let It Grow or Estimated or later songs, are not at all what I'd call brief or simple. Some of Garcia's most extended songs are very simple, just with long solos in-between the verses - Eyes, Fire, Franklin's, Sugaree... Eyes is the most jammed-out of that bunch, the jam practically springs from the groove - actually I think there's still too much "song" in that song! (Caution is a similar case.) Anyway, without going further, practically all the songs I can think of that developed a jam were fully developed & full-length before the jam grew into them.

So, I'm a little puzzled by what you mean... Perhaps a three-minute song portion seems briefer to you than it does to me! Maybe I'm misunderstanding you & going on about nothing. Maybe you're thinking of the early shift from Dead tunes that grew out of jams, to Hunter/Garcia or Weir tunes that were composed more as proper "album" songs.
There may be musical reasons why some songs grew & some didn't (fewer chords, or more adaptable keys, or such), but I feel like almost any early or mid-period song the Dead wrote COULD have been opened up, but few were. Take examples like Comes a Time or Crazy Fingers - in '76 we saw how even relatively complex, chord-rich songs like those could open up into extended closing jams, though they were cut short in later years (The Wheel was one I never understood why it had to end so soon) - and Phil's later bands have explored this approach to many songs. (In many of Weir's more jammed-out songs, on the other hand, I notice that the jams are more self-enclosed and stick to the song structure, maybe because his arrangements are more complicated and the music can't "escape.")

I agree though, that from the late '70s on, the Dead were almost perverse in writing a group of songs that lended themselves very little to open jams. Perhaps this is what you meant when you said their compositional side was in conflict with their improvisations... The Dead were usually pretty strict in picking which songs they "allowed" to grow.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 4:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I should have been more clear. I was referring specifically to "Dark Star" "The Other One" and "Playing in the Band" when I referred to the band's "best material" - I meant the absolute top rank most important jam songs.

For songs-as-songs there are certainly better songs, and I wasn't meaning to imply that all of the wonderful material that is somewhat less purely improvisational (like Here Comes Sunshine and many of the others you listed) is not great material with important performances.

I was just making the point that the songs which have the most important improvisation over the whole lifespan of the band are all very much just a basic musical idea and a fairly short and simple sung portion.

I think all the examples you gave demonstrate that in some ways the band started taking a different view of improvisation. They started trying to create a more specific mood and texture that was intended for a more brief exploration. The jams connected to songs like Estimated, Scarlet, and the like usually stay within the defined "feel" of the song.

I think you understand what I mean, I just didn't make the point very clear. Viewed as a song, Scarlet Begonias is a much better song than Dark Star - but as a context for improvisation, as wonderful as the Scarlet jams were (both in 74 and during the ->Fire era) I don't think anyone believes it was a significant as the more free-form material.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Corrina has surprised me in the past. I really cringe at the overwrought song structure (the bridge is truly an awful piece of music). But I have to say, it was one of the best parts of the Furthur show I saw last month. Very well jammed. I also saw the Dead play it in '93, and the drive toward drums included a very pleasant little MLB jam that really took me by surprise.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 12:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

The music for Days Between is definitely somewhat slow-moving and static harmonically, but I have absolutely no clue where you are pulling the Neil Diamond association from, I don't know much about his music but a long time ago I worked at a job where the boss played a tape of "Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits" or some such often, and I didn't hear anything that sounded even vaguely similar to "Days Between". I feel you are using that label because it expresses distaste/cheesiness but I don't hear the musical connection you do, although maybe the non-greatest hits of Neil Diamond are full of dark, slow ballads that I've never heard.

To me the harmony and melody of Days Between are a good musical embodiment of the kind of imagery used in the song. I find the music of Days Between is actually very similar to that of "Mountains of the Moon" in a good way, although the tempo is slower.

A lot of people who don't like the later years in general do like the last few Garcia originals.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

" I feel you are using that label because it expresses distaste/cheesiness "

Bingo.

And on second thought. Neil Diamond was probably too kind. His songs are way more interesting and dynamic.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Well, as a musical antidote for the slow-moving harmonies of Days Between, I will offer a musical contrast which should provide some relief:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KD39Vt7VFk

Thankfully the realm of music is broad enough to contain such diverse forms of expression.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

If you're looking for a more precise analog for Days Between, I'd say it sounds more like a Moody Blues B-side.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Hmm, I don't really know any Moody Blues other than one song, "Legend of a Mind". I think that's a pretty good song though, and actually does seem to fit with the musical universe of Days Between. I guess that comparison sounds like it might have something to it.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I did say Moody Blues B-side. Days Between ain't no Nights in White Satin.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 6:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"I find the music of Days Between is actually very similar to that of "Mountains of the Moon" in a good way, although the tempo is slower."

Care to elaborate on this? I see few, if any, similarities.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 7:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Sure. It's mostly about the slow pace of harmonic change, a heavy emphasis on G in the bass, a use of harpsichord-like sounds, and an attempt to create a "from out of ancient tales" feeling and mood.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Hmmm.. okay. I guess there may be some vague similarities, but to me they sound very different. Mntns has the feel and chord structure of an ancient dirge, with folky rhythms and a number of interesting jumps and changes that challenge the listener just enough without sounding forces. TC's organ is perfectly composed and prominent in the melody. It's a folky, psychadelic masterpiece from the deep, dark core of the Grateful Dead's primordial soup that offers just enough light and playfulness to keep the listener intrigued.

Contrast that with Days - which has all the dull predictability of a Bob Segar love song. No surprises. A dull melody with zero flair and zero payoff. Sure, Vince or Bralove or whoever might switch on the harpsichord effect, but I've never heard anything close to what TC does on Mntns. The lyrics may share some medieval references, but the melodies couldn't be more different. No texture. Nothing.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Well, probably nothing will change your mind about the song, and if you're not feeling it, you're not feeling it, but Phil liked Days Between, and he thought the music for the song expressed something well.

"Achingly nostalgic, 'Days Between' evokes the past. The music climbs laboriously out of shadows, growing and peaking with each verse, only to fall back each time in hopeless resignation. When Jerry sings [...] I am immediately transported decades back in time, to a beautiful spring morning with Jerry, Hunter, Barbara Meier, and Alan Trist - all of us goofing on the sheer exhilaration of being alive. I don't know whether to weep with joy at the beauty of the vision, or with sadness at the impassable chasm of time between the golden past and the often painful present."

(Searching For the Sound, p. 311-312)

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-03 15:37:44

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Aug 3, 2011 8:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Getting back to the original question:

I don't think you can lump the decade all together. To me, the decade starts off great with 3 solid years from 1980-1982, marked by Brent's growing vocal and instrumental contributions, and some terrific overall band jamming with precision thrown in, as in this Scarlet>Fire from 1982:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd82-09-11.sbd.clugston.2192.sbeok.shnf

IMO, there is then an immense drop-off in quality, mostly due to Jerry's declining health/drug use, from roughly 1983-1988. Yes, there are exceptions, including the stunning shows in Augusta, Maine in October of 1984 (2nd set in this show is among the best ever played):

http://www.archive.org/details/gd84-10-12.sbd.clugston.5585.sbeok.shnf

, but it's pretty tough to listen to Jerry's creaky vocals and a whole lot of sloppy, choppy play in the middle 80's.

Then at the end of the decade, a grand resurgence can clearly be heard from 1989-1990, perhaps best exemplified by any of the shows at Alpine Valley, including this one w/a sublime Sugar Mag>Scarlet transition and an overall sense of renewed purpose and professionalism in the playing:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd89-07-18.sbd.9854.sbeok.shnf

Still, the 80's can't hold a candle to the 70's, and 1977 makes everything else look pale by comparison ;-)

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 9:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"Laboriously" sounds about right to me. Presumably phil also likes Wave to the Wind, right?

Edit: I think Days gains lots of traction from the fact that nobody wants to dis Jerry's last big, tragic ballad -- least of all Phil, I would think. But, hey, what do I know? Lots of people are really into So Many Roads too, so I wouldn't pretend to understand what songs Deadheads like or why they like them.

This post was modified by snow_and_rain on 2011-08-03 16:15:20

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 3, 2011 9:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I doubt Phil likes Wave to the Wind that much, since the band dropped it, and I don't think it's been played much (if at all) by any of the follow up bands?

I don't think you can judge someone's musical taste by the fact they wrote some failed songs. By that standard, who has good taste? Almost everyone has some weak songs.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I've been too argumentative about the value of the song, it's far from one of my favorites, anyway. It was LIA who mentioned it in the first place, I think "So Many Roads" and "Lazy River Road" are both better, even among the last Garcia songs. I wish Days Between had a shorter sung portion, and actually did a bigger and more open jam - that goes back to what I've been saying about how the GD would have done better to focus more on instrumental improv based on themes rather than elaborate arrangements, for their later material. Some people connect this to Robert Hunter writing too many words for his later songs.

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Poster: high flow Date: Aug 3, 2011 9:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Etta James.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 9:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

"I wish Days Between had a shorter sung portion, and actually did a bigger and more open jam"

I basically agree, except I'd replace the "had a shorter sung portion, and actually did a bigger and more open jam" with "was dropped and they just played Stella Blue or Morning Dew instead."

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Poster: dark.starz Date: Aug 3, 2011 3:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

This may sound a tad cliche; "wasn't there".

I mean the second half of the 60's were an amazing time in history and i'm certain if you poll the forum members this era holds the lowest percentage of attendance.

My oldest brother bought "The Grateful Dead" album in 1967 and the Beatles, Cream, Doors FM & AM radio somehow sounded more musical. Christmas 1970 he gave the gift of a reel to reel tape with AM Beauty on one side and Live Dead on the other. This was the first gestalt link to this music.

Have always found the 60's Dead music to be both really intense, and raw, except for perhaps the acoustic music, pig's blues covers and some of the instrumental extrapolation, dark star etc.

I've listened extensively to the Dead's music from 1968 - 1970 and just find myself drawn towards performances after Keith joined and forward. Guess i find the musicality, structure, songs and vocal acumen to be more enjoyable when compared to the 60's intensity. (imho)

However, if i happened upon a vial could certainly dive in head first to this "multi-dimensional" era with arms, eyes and ears wide open.

:)


This post was modified by dark.starz on 2011-08-03 22:08:24

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Poster: kschneid Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Getting joy from an '83 ref really demands some appreciation, so, thanks! You'd think someone with big railroad blues would be a bit more, you know, blue. But that's one happy, happy tune...

...and speaking of '83, how can anyone not be thankful for an aboriginal Sugar Mags?

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 2, 2011 10:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

LIA,I wonder what your thoughts on the space from 10/15/83 might be,I remember some time back Bkidwell made some interesting comments on it,I don't recall if you chipped in I got sidetracked and never got back to it.I remember paying close attention to the space that night because they had played St. Stephen 3 nights earlier at MSG and we were hoping to catch any hints of another one.We did not get any hints,but we did get a fantastic,developed,very interesting 10 minutes of space where Weir and Jerry exchanged multiple ideas,playing Jobim/bossa nova licks against hard space licks,full on spanish space music -> ominous vibe -> well struck Weir strums into a pretty Jer/Weir duet ->crunching soft space-> St. Stephen. I recall Bkidwell saying something about a tarantella.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1983-10-15.fob.senn441.silberman.miller.93751.sbeok.flac16

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-08-03 05:25:10

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 3, 2011 1:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Well, through the summer of '83 Jerry & Weir had been working on these guitar duets as the "space" - this one was the first I heard, and remained my favorite. Being limited to 2 guitars gives it a very open, uncluttered feel rare in the Dead's '80s music. I took it as basically a long tease - at the start they shift between Spanish Jam & Other One motifs, then later on Jerry plays a couple pretty melodic themes that sound like they're going into something familiar, but they keep backing off and circling around...something... Then the something turns out to be St Stephen. But even if you didn't know that was coming next, it was fascinating for me to hear how closely they follow each other into new patterns.

The Taping Compendium describes it well:
"Bob lays down a wonderful grouping of simple chords...Jerry makes a dark, sweet statement over them. Bob then suggests the Spanish Jam. Jerry thoughtfully replies. But while the two flirt with Spain, they never fully go there... One might think that this would be a frustrating experience for the listener...but it is a wonderful flirtation, a truly poetic moment, for the two are so in sync that when they move to other related themes, the digression is in itself hypnotic. This goes on for several minutes as they ebb and flow between loud silences and furious flurries of subtle activity... Bob shifts from playing minor chord patterns into a major chord theme, and in turn the jam goes from deliciously dark to lyrically bright. Then Bob starts hammering bell-like harmonics to which Jerry replies with the opening notes of St Stephen."

The Stephen itself is the best one of '83 - meaning it's just OK & not very enthusiastic, kind of collapses at the end; but the best part of the evening had already been played.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 3, 2011 9:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I found that space to be very inventive,they didn't merely bounce around familiar ideas,but twisted them around some,at about 1:50 Weir is playing something akin to Girl From Impanema while Jerry plays sharp mutron space licks in return,a beautiful contrast.At about 4 minutes an O1 jam slides into a spanish jam which morphs into a unique flamenco style O1 jam,it's really strong.This space is everything space should have been,I lose interest in the bulk of them because they are usually not interesting,and I really don't enjoy the mutron folder effect for the most part,I found their use of gadgetry to be a band-aid for lack of creativity.

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Poster: billydlions Date: Aug 3, 2011 4:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

I've always liked the space jam from 10-31-83 the best from that tour. It's not really space, but a pre-Stephen jam that really goes places. I'm sure you've heard it but if not give it a try. The fall tour from 1983 is (IMHO) the last great tour for the band. It's not as good as the spring or fall tour of 1981, but perhaps the equal of the summer tour from 1982. It seems like Jerry raised his level of play during the JGB shows from June and kept it up all the all the way through 10/31. When I think of 80's dead, it's really Aug 1980- Oct 1983.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 3, 2011 12:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

10-31-83 is a good Space - different feel, a lot wilder - the drummers keep going, in fact they try to take over the Space, so it doesn't have the same gentle Bob/Jerry duet thing going. (Kind of interesting that Airto just leaves in the middle of Space, too, just when you think he's getting going...)
http://www.archive.org/details/gd83-10-31.sbd.gardner.3827.sbeok.shnf

'83 is not necessarily as sharp as '82 was, but I think a lot of it (esp from the second half) is really enjoyable.
'84 has some really interesting jams too - a lot of people kind of "sign off" after '83, but some of the jams in '84 have this really dark & dreamy feel that I like.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 3, 2011 5:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What Do You Like About The 80's ?

Definitely. I like that show, but it seems to be kind of under the radar. It's a great drums > space, and also different, cuz it's with Airto, as I recall. Last St Stephen. I agree that's a fine tour; IMO June 85 is quite good, too, if you don't mind frogs.

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-08-03 12:18:19